Cow’s milk is comprised of several, specific proteins that have been shown to have a range of health-supportive properties.
Cow’s milk is comprised of several, specific proteins that have been shown to have a range of health-supportive properties. They can offer structural advantages, too, which is why milk is the primary ingredient in many dairy products, e.g. yogurt, cheese, and of course, whey – a by-product of the dairy industry. Because whey is a dry ingredient, it delivers a concentrated source of milk proteins, which is why it’s at the forefront of the sports nutrition industry.
The dominant protein in milk is micellar casein, which (as you might have guessed) is made up of caseins (proteins), along with water and mineral salts, including phosphorus and calcium. These nutrients contribute to bone health, which is why diary is viewed as important in the diet. Casein plays a chief role in cheese production, forming the gelatinous ‘curds’. The liquid proportion that’s separated from these is the then dried to produce whey protein powder. The nutritional profile of whey protein powders will vary, depending on processing techniques used.
The main milk proteins found in whey are beta-lactoglobulin\u00a0and alpha-lactalbumin, which according to studies, may benefit certain aspects of health. As with casein, they’re naturally rich in all essential amino acids, including BCAAS. Whey is renowned for its fast-absorption rate and high bioavailability, which is why it’s so prevalent in the sports nutrition industry; it can assist muscle growth, repair and maintenance.
Interestingly, the protein peptides (the isolated ‘bonds’ between amino acids) found in milk proteins are thought to possess health-supportive properties. Improved gastrointestinal health and immune function have been attributed to milk proteins; they are said to stimulate the production of glutathione, and other components with reported, antioxidant effects. Increased nitrogen retention (a key factor in muscle-building) is too, linked to whey consumption. This means it could offer proposed benefits to athletic performance as well as general health.
Of course, casein protein powder is also a by-product of cheese production that’s a popular supplement. Caseins are highly digestible by the small intestine; because they’re absorbed slowly, they provide a steady supply of amino acids – an action which may help to increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown (catabolism).
Aside from whey and casein protein powders, milk proteins are often used to fortify products like RTDS, protein coffee, protein bars, and other types of health and sports nutrition products.